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How to leverage money to accomplish high impact Debian projects

Dear DPL candidates,

when I was younger, I dreamed to be paid to do Debian work. But that was
not possible, and that's the reason why I started my own company Freexian
16 years ago. Through those years I always kept this goal in mind (it's
part of my personal mission statement for Freexian).

Now thanks to the success of the Debian LTS sponsorship and of the
numerous companies that understand the importance of giving back to
Debian, Freexian is in the position to pay some people to do useful Debian
work. We formalized this with a mechanism to propose projects to be
I announced this on debian-project[1] and on Planet Debian[2] a while ago.
But at this point, we have only funded a single project[3], leaving us
with more than 25 KEUR available for further projects.

I did not expect this lack of interest... if I were not running Freexian,
I would have proposed projects out of the long list of distro-tracker
wishlist bugs...  I enjoy working on this project and I wish I had more
time for it.

1/ How do you explain this lack of interest?

I have read recently from other Debian members that they have a feeling
that Debian is stagnating, and I share that feeling to some degree. If we
had plans and motivated people, surely some of those would have stepped up
to implement them in exchange of some remuneration. Do you share that
feeling too?

2/ I really want this initiative to be successful so I'm now looking into
ways to make it work. I'm considering paying someone to identify useful
projects. That person could talk to various teams, make proposals based on
their own experience, and even run a poll among Debian developers. The
idea is that we want to find high-impact projects that can help Debian get
out of this "stagnation".

What do you think of this idea?

I'm considering past DPLs for this role as they have a broad knowledge of
the project and usually also some vision for the future. But I'm open to
anyone than can convince me they would do a good job for this. :-)

3/ While the DPL can't spend Debian's money to pay people, the funds
available in Freexian's reserve have been clearly earmarked in this
direction by the LTS sponsors.

Do you think the DPL should be able to propose projects that would be
funded through this initiative, so that DPLs can have a bit more impact in
areas where they want to improve the current situation?

Sorry for the hard questions and thanks for the time you spend for
Debian. :-)

The election is always a period where we look back a bit and think of
bigger changes, so even if those questions are meant for the prospective
DPL, I welcome feedback from everybody really.


[1] https://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2020/11/msg00002.html
[2] https://raphaelhertzog.com/2020/12/14/funding-debian-development-projects-with-freexian-first-project-received/
[3] https://salsa.debian.org/freexian-team/project-funding/-/issues/4
  ⢀⣴⠾⠻⢶⣦⠀   Raphaël Hertzog <hertzog@debian.org>
  ⢿⡄⠘⠷⠚⠋    The Debian Handbook: https://debian-handbook.info/get/
  ⠈⠳⣄⠀⠀⠀⠀   Debian Long Term Support: https://deb.li/LTS

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